My Dad was fond of colloquialisms. Some maintained their “stickiness” more than others ~ one in particular was this; “No matter how much you love your company, don’t ever believe it loves you back.”
At the time, I was waiting tables to pay for weekend college excursions with a few of my heathen fraternity brothers, so “love” and “company” was not a combination of terms I could fathom.
But then, of course, it happened. I found an employer for whom I grew quite fond. And, (as engaged employees will often do) it became second-nature for me to work harder and smarter than I may have believed possible when I worked for other companies. Just as the Old Man had foretold, I found myself in love with my company.
What a fool.
It would take years before it would become apparent to me, but my beloved company was decidedly one-sided in its capacity for emotional involvement. Like most corporations, the need for employee engagement was trumpeted as a critical part of the ongoing culture. And yet…….when the going gets really tough, the “engaged” nature of the relationship disappears for the company.
Communication stops. Privileges are reduced. Vacant offices and cubicles appear. An informal grapevine becomes the source of information sharing. In layman’s terms, the leadership team becomes habitually “puckered.”
And, like the cowardly boyfriend who continues to disrespect and mistreat his former beloved Belle, employees are in effect “dared” to quit rather than be treated with an honest approach.
So, what does this teach us?
1. Companies are not built to love (sounds like something from IRobot).
2. If you want loyalty, buy a dog.
We need to go into the arrangement with an honest and educated perspective; love your work, but don’t be clouded in your overall judgment. Change WILL happen. You WILL be impacted. Knowing this, allow yourself to be in a state (unlike the aforementioned young Lass) of self-dependency, ready and able to roll with the punches.
Be brave, be bold, be confident, and be a model for your colleagues – only then will you do your best work. Waiting for roses and Whitman’s will only lead to heartbreak.
John “Whit” Whitaker is Vice President at Pritchett LP, and Founder of the HR Hardball™ movement.
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